US airstrike kills at least 10 civilians in Kunduz – UN

US airstrike kills at least 10 civilians in Kunduz – UN
At least 10 civilians died in a US air raid on the northern city of Kunduz on Saturday, the United Nations mission in Afghanistan said, citing witnesses including medics. The assumption is at odds with a US military probe that found no civilian deaths.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan posted a series of messages on Twitter about Saturday’s attack. It said that interviews with a number of survivors, medics, elders and other witnesses gave it enough reason to believe that civilians were among the victims.

“Credible reports that at least 10 civilians killed in Kunduz Afghanistan air strike 4 Nov, UNAMA initial findings show,” it said.

The stance contradicts a US statement, which said that an investigation had found no evidence of civilian deaths.“United States Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A) has investigated allegations of civilian casualties in Kunduz province during the period of November 3 and 4; no evidence of civilian casualties has been found,” the statement said on Tuesday.

The New York Times reported that airstrikes carried out by the US military in Kunduz on Saturday killed at least 13 civilians, citing residents and officials in the area.

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defense said one civilian was killed and five others injured in airstrikes in the Chahardara district in Kunduz. TOLO news reported that according to provincial council member Khosh Mohammad Nasratyar, dozens of civilians had been killed.

US Defense Secretary James Mattis said during a visit to Kabul in September that “We are here to protect the Afghan people while we attack the terrorists.” However, a US airstrike during Mattis’ visit to Kabul, designed to fend off a Taliban attack, accidentally caused a number of civilian casualties, US officials acknowledged. Insurgents had fired high-explosive ammunition, including mortars, into the vicinity of Hamid Karzai International Airport and detonated suicide vests, and US forces conducted an airstrike in response. “Tragically, one of the missiles malfunctioned, causing several casualties,” a statement from NATO’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan said.

The UN said in a report that there had been a 52 percent increase in civilian casualties from air strikes in the first nine months of the year.

The mission documented 466 civilian casualties during the first nine months of 2017. Of the 205 who were killed and the 261 who were injured, 68 percent were women and children, the UN noted.

Mattis stated in September that “over 3,000” new US troops would be heading to Afghanistan as part of President Donald Trump’s new strategy to win a war that has dragged on for almost 16 years. Trump unveiled his new strategy in August, saying that retribution against terrorist groups in Afghanistan would be “fast and powerful.”